Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Darn Trash day!

We have now been in our house over the course of 3 Tuesdays.... Tuesday is trash day.... for 3 1/2 yrs we didn't have trash service and schlepped our own garbage to the nearby dump. This usually took place whenever it piled up to the point the lids wouldn't fit on the trash cans and the neighborhood dogs, raccoons and opossums began to argue over our leavings! Hauling trash isn't a favorite activity of anyone at our house either so the passing of the buck has become an art form. The ever so cleaver "I'll get the trash Mom after I go to the bathroom". Either my kids are in the need of a much higher fiber diet or they have learned which things let them temporarily off the hook.

Twice during these last 3 Tuesdays I have yelled downstairs to the only mouse a stirring in the early morning hours to throw on some clothes and haul that cart to the curb ... hopeful that perhaps the banging and clanging I heard earlier wasn't the garbage truck. In fact last night Hubby even said "tomorrow is trash day isn't it?" I affirmed his statement and absolved myself of further responsibility thinking that since he had spoken the truth he would take care of the follow through. At 10am this morning he called from work and said "I forgot to put the trash cart at the curb this morning". So once again poor Anna (you see I have told you all before nothing good comes of getting up too early!) had to grab something to throw on over her pj's and haul the cart to the curb. In case you are wondering... that banging and clanging early this morning... well it WAS the garbage truck so now my cart sits neatly at the curb placed according to regulations but still full of last week's garbage!!!!

Now I am not casting blame on anyone because Hubby goes to work at 3 or 4 am (I am never sure because I am only conscious enough to kiss him goodbye and roll back over!) so I can well imagine he has many excuses for not thinking about that garbage cart! Heck I am impressed he can drive a manual transmission car at that hour much less remember chores! Of course the chance that we will EVER remember which day recycling is picked up is almost nil... they even gave us a nice neatly color coded magnet containing this information but since it's every other week and we are the gold zone and not the green zone ... what are the chances REALLY that I will remember?? Maybe my motivation will come when the first bill comes from the town containing all these charges I am now responsible for paying for water, sewer, trash, recycling etc?? Let's hope I have some motivation some where!

I used to think that I could keep my house clean if I assigned certain tasks to certain days or that even I could get my kids to help by assigning certain chores to them to be done on certain days. I quickly found out that the panic that I felt when I forgot bathroom day just when mop the kitchen floor day arrived wasn't worth it! I usually ended up with it being Friday or Saturday and every single thing I had written down as a "to do" for the week was still "un done" !! I even tried Flylady and let me tell you her emails got downright annoying! I don't operate well under nagging!!

I have always hated being told what to do ...heck I think that's the main reason I homeschool! Nothing got me steamed up faster than some 24 yr old Miss Teacherpants telling me what was best for my children when she had known them all of 4 days! There are things of course that we all have to be told to do that make sense to us ... file your taxes, pay your taxes, get a driver's license etc... you know under the whole "it's the law" kind of thing. I don't want the government telling me how to raise my child or educate my child so that's where I draw my line. There are lots of folks that don't like income tax but that's not a battle I feel I am going to take on. I would rather fight for my right to educate and raise my children as I see fit and let someone else wrestle Uncle Sam for his wallet.

Bookshelves update.... my family has agreed that MAYBE they will fit but so far it hasn't been motivation enough to get the shelves out of the garage and into the schoolroom. There are still 2 1/2 walls that need painting so that has to be done first. Frankly I think they think I will forget about it if they stall long enough.

Obviously they aren't very observant! HA!

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Extreme" Parenting

I am contemplating parenting today (it's about time since I claimed in my blog name that was what I would talk about!) and thinking that it's just amazing how much some people can completely miss the point! To me there is a whole spectrum of stupidity related to parenting ... a whole list of "types" if you will. I have long been clinging to the premise that no one sets out to be a bad parent... no one intentionally wants to screw up their kid. I have even given wide berth to abusive parents allowing that everyone does what they think is best and alot of times even in abusive situations some of those parents truly don't know that smacking their kid around is bad, or leaving them alone too much is bad, or screaming at them all the time is bad. If you were parented that way and never exposed to good parenting then that's your frame of reference. Doesn't make it right or OK but it doesn't necessarily make you some monster.

I have always thought if parents spent more time helping each other and supporting one another then we all might do a better job. I think self awareness is helpful though as well. I think some folks don't see what they are doing as a parent can be harmful if done in extreme ways. Now just for a chuckle let's examine some of these forms of "extreme" parenting. Now my types aren't going to fit any sort of mainstream parenting books because basically the way I parent doesn't fit any particular mold either!

The first type that comes to mind are the "mini me" parents... you have seen them... the baby is 6 months old and dressed in blue jeans and a golf shirt with his hair slicked into a real man-do! Their 3 yr old is wearing high heels, a mini skirt and halter top and looks like a "mini hoochie" instead of a preschooler! They are yelling at their kids for being kids... they are embarrassed when their child fails or isn't the best, fastest, brightest etc because it reflects so badly on THEM! They feed their kids only the foods THEY like, they take them only the places THEY like, and disparage anything the child expresses a fondness for unless THEY like it (read VALUE IT) too. Their kids often become bullies or become so anxious and depressed they can barely function or are miserable overachievers. My kids all have a few friends like this... one friend has applied to a bunch of colleges she isn't the least bit interested in because her parents wanted her too. When asked where she WANTS to go she hasn't the foggiest idea! One child is a honors student in a "gifted" school while her mother comments she doesn't know how she managed to get in or how she manages to bring home straight A's and screams at this kid to stop being "so damn WEIRD" ... same mom endorses the step daughter who is "cool" but now is in a group home because she's gotten into so much trouble (doing drugs, running away, dating a way too much older guy, stealing, lying etc etc) . WHAT THE HELL???

Then you have the "drill sergeant" parent... we have all seen them and some small part of us has envied the absolute obedience their kids exhibit (for a tiny second at least !) until we look into these poor demoralized and often ANGRY kids' eyes! These are the parents who tell their kids what to do every waking moment, never ask their kids what they want, they buy them clothing, food and provide shelter for them and in return the kids do whatever they are told without question. They go to church (which sadly is the place that some of these parents THINK they were taught how to be such good parents!) and never consider that their kids might have a different belief system or ever even allow that their kids question anything about their chosen religion (sometimes these folks cross over into the mini me's!) . We have all known these parents their kids are often revered in the neighborhood because "boy that family has it together... that mom/dad has CONTROL of that family". What we as parents often don't see is their 12 yr old in the bathroom at school putting on the makeup that she was forbidden to wear when she asked at home, their 14 yr old trying out pot or beer because when he asked WHY he shouldn't' experiment he was just told "because I said so" and a few years down the line the now 15 yr old daughter shows up pregnant because she was told "not to" have sex rather than educated about sex and birth control and decision making. These parents don't allow their kids to make any decisions because they control everything and often the parents are so afraid their kids will make a mistake and it will reflect badly on them as parents (the mini me crossover again) that they can't consider giving up any of that control. Their kids are often sneaky and secretive because their parents don't have open communication with them. They also can be raising kids that are so naive they get into dangerous situations because they don't know anything about the world since the control is often so tight they aren't allowed to experience anything until they finally get away. We all know the girl that was an angel in high school and during Freshman year in college is out drinking and carousing all night! The one that flunks out by sophomore year? Or the boy that drinks so much he ends up in the ER because no one ever educated him about drinking but just told him not to? What happens when the parent isn't there telling them what to do?? These parents don't give their kids any tools to navigate the real world... they don't give them a safe place to make the wrong decision and learn from it. This is the parent you would NEVER call if you were out with friends and drank too much to drive home... you would rather risk your life and those around you than face calling that parent and asking for a ride.

The "un" parent.... these parents are often so selfish and self absorbed that they don't realize they ARE parents... they drift through life hoping the rest of the world will deal with their kids so they don't have to stop what they want to do and deal with them. I think we have all been trapped at the park or birthday party by the 5 yr old that is so starved for attention she's decided she's your new best friend? The one that walks up and says "I am thirsty" or " I have to go potty" ...while you are asking where her mother is she's crawled into the host's fridge looking for sustenance. The kid at the park that seems to be there alone and asks to be pushed on the swing or joins your picnic uninvited? These parents when asked why they don't stop their kids from doing something obnoxious or annoying will say "well if the person is annoyed they should tell them to stop" NO Lady this is YOUR kid this is YOUR JOB to parent him not complete strangers while you talk on your cell phone and your 3 yr old toddles down the green way into the woods alone! Sometimes these parents will even suggest that their "relaxed" parenting is allowing their kids freedom to explore and figure out who they are, that they don't want to squelch little Johnny's psyche by telling him "no". Well let me define personal freedom for you in case you are fuzzy... YOUR freedom ENDS where another person's freedom BEGINS! I think all kids need limits... they need to know that there is an adult in charge to help them through the things that are beyond their social navigation skills. They need to feel safe and know that someone "has their back" in all situations. Letting your kid figure it out for themselves with no help is NOT OK. These are the people that abuse the attachment parenting title.... let me clear it up for you.... if your 3 yr old just toddled into the woods because you were too busy talking to Mary Jo about last week's mom's night out then you ARE NOT very attached! Attachment parenting means you are available to meet your kid's needs, you are in tune and attached to them helping them navigate the world at their pace and comfort level... you are allowing them to decide when they are ready to wean, to separate from you etc. You UNPARENTS need to STOP abusing this beautiful process!

The "best friend" parent.... this is seen often in single parents or families where one parent works or travels alot or is just fairly disconnected from the whole process. The available parent makes the kids their best friends, they don't have their own friends and pretty much make sure the kids don't either unless the friend can join into the circle that includes the parents. Sometimes in extreme form this is the parent that buys beer for the kids and their friends because they are all buddies. Often these kids are burdened with all the talk about finances, relationships, job stress and everything else. These parents don't seem to think that burdening their kids with all this "adult" stress is harmful. Sometimes they are even more adult than the parent doing the worrying themselves about the bills, or the other kids while the parent is off partying or making other bad decisions knowing that their "best bud" is back home holding down the fort. Sometimes these parents are the "cool" parents in the other kids' eyes because they don't care if their kid drinks, or they are open to discussing their kid's love life on a more intimate level etc. So... if you are advising your kid's friends about which boy to date, sharing drunk stories, and even making fun of their parents along with them you MIGHT want to check out a pair of big girl panties. There comes a time to grow up and provide some guidance for your children... you can be best friends when they are adults too .... while they are kids PLEASE be their parent! You can have a close bond with your child but still be the responsible adult. Kids NEED parents to be in charge of things like paying bills, maintaining the home (chores won't kill them but they shouldn't have to worry about where the new roof is coming from!) . Kids need parents to help them learn to be adults.

The "velcro" parent... this parent has taken attachment parenting to an extreme, they mean well but are missing some of those autonomous signals that kids give off. If your kid's legs are hitting the ground from the bottom of the baby sling then he MIGHT be ready to explore a bit on his own! This parent is usually a worrier... they are so sure that someone will be mean to their kid, that the kid will get hurt, that germs are out there, that someone will take their kid etc that they sometimes make their kid a nervous wreck. They are the mom's at the first day of school crying on the front steps while their kid is dragging the teacher down the hall trying to get back to them... in kindergarten we see a lot of this but when the kid is in 7th grade the other kids might make their lives a little rough! This is the kid that desperately wants to spend the night at a friend's house but by the time they arrive the mom has spent all day warning them about all the things that could happen and reminding them a zillion times that when they get too scared to stay all night she will come pick them up that there's no way the child can make it all night. Now let me take a moment here to explain that I know there are kids that don't do the sleepover thing well... they try and sometimes it works out for them and sometimes they don't do so well ... these kids usually have parents that have said "you can call me anytime if you need me" and when/if called try very hard to help the child navigate the situation, they support the feelings this child is having and try to help in whatever way they can. This is VERY different from the parent who says to the child " I know you won't make it all night so just call me when you fail". These also seem to be the parents that at some point get so tired and overwhelmed of being available for their now neurotic child that they begin to employ the "sneak exit" which is when you take your kid somewhere and when they aren't paying attention you leave! It saves the parent the crying that they taught the kid but now are tired of... it makes the kid pretty miserable in case you are wondering ! It also makes the kid no longer trust you because you have just shown that you will lie to get away from them. This can start a whole other level of separation anxiety for the parent and child.

The "I am so important" parent is one that I see SOOO often in my area... these parents are SO important they just don't have time for parenting. But don't worry about their kids this "so important" parents can afford to hire someone to do it for them... isn't that fortunate?? You have Dad who is some high powered executive/doctor/lawyer/business owner and works 30 hours a day and travels 8 days a week and never takes a vacation with the family. You have Mom who is just so completely overwhelmed with her schedule.... my heart really aches for this mom.... can you believe she has to manage the nanny, the housekeeper, the gardener, do the shopping, make appointments for the dentist, doctor, plastic surgeon, therapist, hair stylist, manicurist, facialist, massage therapist etc, she has to deal with interior decorators, contractors(you practically have to keep on on retainer so if you need a quick addition to your 6500 sq ft home you don't have to wait!) , she has to interview new nannies, tutors, handle paperwork for getting little Johnny into the BEST schools, juggle the scheduling of little Johnny's tennis lesson, baseball game, lacrosse club, tutor, Cotillion, golf lesson, play dates and so forth and sadly ALL ALONE! ??? I tell you it's amazing she ever has time to have lunch at the club, go to the spa or play tennis herself! Also can you believe her child's school will NOT let the nanny take her turn as Lunch mom? TWICE a year she has to go to the school and help hand out lunches.... it can sometimes take an HOUR! These are the kids that run directly past mom into the nanny's arms when they are upset, some of these kids become real jerks because sometimes that happens when it's made clear to you you aren't a priority in your parent's lives! We all know kids that have 2 expensive sports cars, vacation in exotic places, wear all the latest fashions , have the best toys, attend the best schools, know all the "right" people and sadly are miserable and just want a little of their parent's attention. Sometimes they learn how to do that by getting into trouble because attention is attention! Sometimes they learn that they aren't important and take other risks because they figure no one cares if they are around or not. I am not just picking on wealthy people here because I know plenty of solid middle class and even some fairly poor folks that still seem to mistake material possessions for love. Your kid doesn't need another lego set... they need a parent that will listen to them, hug them , spend time with them doing things or nothing at all. Every moment of your child's life doesn't have to be packed with activities for you to be a good parent. Kids need time to just be kids! Don't sign your kid up for tennis because you wanted to play and never got to, don't assume they will enjoy playing violin because you always wished you could. Before you go out to another meeting on a week night instead of helping with homework and spending time together really think about what's important!

I am sure there are other types of "extreme" parents but these are the types that I seem to see most often that cause me concern. I have vowed that this blog is about sharing information and observations that will hopefully help someone else parent in a more meaningful way, that it will help me examine my parenting and remember that my kids are HUMANS who have their own ideas and needs. So here's my idea of what a good parent is or should strive for in this new not so extreme parenting type.

The "intuitive" parents ... these parents are available for their kids, they put their relationship in a place of importance so that their family is stable and loving, their kids never doubt that they are important and aren't burdened with being "TOO" important. They have open communication with their kids and discuss everything... no topic is taboo, nothing is secret. The parents know their kid's friends and their parents, they know where they kids are and who they are spending time with. They help their kids navigate new situations and share concerns when things don't go well. They provide an example of how to treat others in the way they treat their kids and all those people around them no matter who they are. They teach moderation in all things by teaching their kids to be good stewards of money and of the earth. They are connected, available and thoughtful parents who know when their kids are happy, sad, anxious, angry and can discuss it without judgment. They provide enrichment that supports the interests of their children, they allow their children space and freedom to figure out what they like and don't like and how they want to go through the world. They find ways to say yes... they find ways to facilitate the needs of every member of the family without one being more important of valuable than another. They teach empathy and respect by giving it. They value their children as unique individuals that have likes, dislikes, fears, dreams and goals. They don't use their position as an "adult" to squash the desires or dreams of their kids. They validate their kids' feelings no matter what the feeling is. They avoid the desire to control, protect, shelter their kids from the real world but help them find the tools to navigate at their own pace the wider world. They guide decision making but do not influence it above the opinions of their children. They allow their kids to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. They do not value the opinions of the world above those of their family. They love their kids beyond all reason and want the absolute best for them at all times. They do not judge their children in ways that break down trust and respect. These parents are the soft place to fall that children need. These parents teach their children about the "real world" without throwing them to the wolves because they teach them that family is your safety net and the world is the world.

Hopefully this will influence you to examine your parenting on a more conscious level... think about relationships and people before you think about material possessions. I have a friend that lost a young child to cancer... she often tells other parents when they are worried about something being a big deal to think about whether this particular thing would be a big deal in the scheme of the world if their child was to die the next day. It certainly puts it in a different light if you consider it that way!

Hug your kids you can NEVER love them TOO much!


Friday, March 20, 2009

A Friend's Grief

Today finds me still in boxes and just sort of paralyzed by the magnitude of everything! My best friend just found out that her drug addicted sister (who's first child my friend adopted and is raising since his mother didn't KNOW doing heroin was bad for a fetus!) has been charged with causing the death of her 3 yr old. Authorities found lethal doses of Methadone in this child's body. Needless to say my friend is devastated! I can't even describe to you the hysteria and profound grief in her voice as she called me yesterday in the morning to relate this news. It was the type of grief that just knocks you down, the type of emotion that seems unfathomable to survive.

When she first learned of this child's existence 3 years ago she called the authorities and informed them of this person's child rearing history, of the fact that she had already adopted one child this person had lost custody of. She talked to Child Protective Services, the local police, caseworkers , even private investigators and attorneys and was only able to learn that her sister was already under investigation, that being a drug addict doesn't make you a bad parent (ARE YOU KIDDING?) and that nothing could be done until she HARMED this child by abuse or neglect! What is it in this country that makes it okay for someone who is a documented drug addict (by virtue of having a methadone prescription you are sort of admitting that ok?), who has already lost custody of one child because of neglect and endangerment to give birth and be trusted with that child??

I have often said it floors me that anyone can give birth but you have to have a license or permit to do almost anything else.....drive, build something, have a business etc. Another thing that constantly amazes me is how multiple children can grow up in the same home and turn out so differently. How something inside of a person can be so broken that they do unspeakable things?? How even the smallest dysfunction within a family can cause so much harm in one person's life and be overcome by another. My friend and her sister were raised in an affluent area by older parents who adopted both girls because they could not have their own children. My friend says her parents really knew nothing about parenting and really should have never had children. Perhaps they are not to be credited with the wonderful person my friend is nor the dysfunctional person her sister became.

My friend is one of those people who never had anything bad to say about anyone, she rarely gets angry (but when she is WATCH OUT because she's a redhead!), she is emotional and passionate, extremely bright and articulate and just all around a person you want on your side. She's had more than her share of bad luck in the past couple of years beginning with a serious motorcycle accident in which her husband lost his leg and almost his life. That was an incredible time of grief and trauma for their whole family while he recovered and struggled to regain his ability to provide for their family. They have struggled financially to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. It has worn on my friend, she's often been depressed and felt hopeless during this time. She's hung on though and found lots of ways to stretch what money she could get her hands on. This week things were looking up as her husband began a new job and she was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately the light was a train with the news of the death of this poor innocent child!

There will be more days of grief as more is learned about this situation but if you are the praying type please pray for comfort and peace for my friend, pray that this child who has left us was loved during her time on earth by those around her, that even as her mother caused her death that she did not suffer other pain prior to this horrible end. Send positive energy and light if that's your belief system as well because my friend... she could use all of that she can get as well. I am finding that adulthood is filled with times like this when there's nothing you can say that helps, nothing that gives the magnitude of comfort you want to give to your suffering friend, nothing you can provide that can fix or make it better. Time has a way of healing us... the period of time required varies and sometimes it's really hard to imagine ever feeling better but we do eventually heal enough to be thankful for the good things and able to live with the bad.

Peace and love to little Jessi.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Best Boy a Mom Could Ever Have!

The unpacking continues and we continue to find things that have been lost for a long time and wonder where the "new" lost things have gotten to! My bedroom lamps seem to be MIA and while hubby is a patient man he does go to work at 4am so he would rather not spend his first few hours in bed under the overhead room light! My lamps were somewhat shabby so replacing them really isn't a hard decision to make but wow have you priced lamps lately??? I just need light to read by not light for a photo shoot or to do neurosurgery under!

We are finally getting Jack's room painted...my original plan had been to leave his room as is with a new coat of the general house basic of creamy light taupe.... nothing doing! When Sarah and Anna painted their room lime green his wheels began to turn... then Ainsley's room became pepto pink and he was done being patient. "I want my room blue" he declared and I knew I was done! You see when my boy asks for something I can't resist! Not because he's a boy, not because he's the "baby" but I don't know just because he is Jack! There are some kids that just have that "something" about them! My friend Wendy has a kid like that. He's the type kid that when you look at him you just smile! He's just one of "those" kids! My Jack has always been a real looker... our pediatrician has commented many times that he's just a "spectacular" looking kid. He knows he is cute too and he isn't afraid to use it! He learned the big anime eyes and poked out lip at a young age! He would say "peease??" and really there was just no way to say no!

I think there IS something about the kid that you kind of know is your last one. It took us quite a while to get to that "last" child at our house. After six years of trying we had figured we might be done and need to give up. Little did we know that moving 3 hours away, giving away most of your baby stuff and deciding to live in the tiny farmhouse on hubby's grandfather's farm was the key to fertility! I developed complications at the end of my pregnancy and Jack arrived 7 weeks early after a ten day hospital stay and near death for me. We were so fortunate that he had very few issues and was able to come home with us after a short stay in the NICU. His development has given us concerns at times, his health has sometimes been questionable due to asthma and dangerous food allergies but in all he has thrived and grown under the way too adoring eyes of his family.

Jack is the youngest grandchild and first grandson so he holds a special place in the hearts of my parents.... my Daddy loves his granddaughters but something just lit up in him when he found out he was going to have a grandson. Because of Ainsley's genetic syndrome and my "advanced" age (35!!) we had an amniocentesis to help us plan his birth. Many kids with 22q are born very sick and have to have complicated heart surgeries immediately after birth so we weren't looking to select the perfect baby but to prepare should we have another child with a genetic disorder. I was home alone when they called and I first thought "oh boy this has to be a bad omen... home alone and the results are in!" The genetic counselor cut to the chase right away letting me know that my baby was healthy, free of any genetic disorders and asked if I still wanted to know the sex. Of course! She told me it was a boy and I burst into tears! Poor woman I know thought I had lost my mind and asked if I was ok !? I said yes I was fine and very happy to have a boy to join my 3 girls! I hung up the phone and called my husband... no answer! I called my mom ... no answer! I called my grandmother.... no answer! I called my husband again! NO ANSWER! SO I called my Dad and he answered so he got the honor of being the first to know that Jack was on his way! He was just tickled... he kept saying "now that's something .... isn't that something?" My great grandfather was named John and called Jack, my husband's grandfather was named Jack so we had long decided that any boy we had would be named John and called Jack. Both men were amazing men... they loved their families, worked hard, and lived upstanding honorable lives. Both of them had that "something" that twinkle we see in our Jack.... they could tease with the best of them! My dad regularly calls Jack "Jack the ripper" not because he is a sociopathic killer but because he is soooo active and "rips" around everywhere!

My brother refers to Jack as "the chosen one" which really cracks me up because he is at least 50% responsible for him holding that status! My brother finds Jack hilarious and loves to egg him on to all sorts of shenanigans! Thanks to my brother Jack learned to climb onto the roof of the golf carts we use to get around in my parent's vacation home community at around age 4! He also taught him to dive from the top of the cabin of the boat which is a little high for my taste! Jack can spin a yarn.... a gift his great grandfathers' had as well! He can just spin it out with his eyes big and make you believe whatever he is saying no matter how implausible is completely true. These aren't whoppers like "my sister broke the window and yes the bat that hit the ball is now in my hand but I was just removing it from her so she didn't do more damage" they are full fledged yarns.... ask him about www.tooth.com sometime if you want to laugh until you wet your pants! His imagination is unparalleled at our house....he can be found hopping up the stairs cursing himself for inventing invisible ropes that are now tied around his legs and further cursing his lack of insight in inventing invisible scissors capable of cutting the invisible rope which he now can't find because after all they ARE invisible! We seriously never know what he may come up with!

As is typical with most little kids raised in houses with teenagers we are frequently embarrassed by his language. We are further impressed by his usage since he often uses these words more appropriately and accurately than the teens he learned them from. I have never been more keenly aware of how provocative prime time television is!! We love 2 1/2 Men but they push the envelope so frequently now that the boy on the show is a teen that we now have to shoo Jack from the room to avoid answering questions like "what's sex?" or " how DO babies come out?" Not conversations I want to have with my 7 yr old on the fly during the commercial breaks ! I will have to say other than the swear words he picks up he does have an awesome vocabulary mostly because he has never been talked to like a baby. Our friends are often impressed by his vocabulary but I am sometimes frightened by how bright he is! I am going to really have to hustle to keep up with this one!

He constantly challenges what I know about parenting, he is intense, sensitive, emotional, creative and ACTIVE! He has to move, he has to jump, he needs to talk about things, he touches, bumps, and makes noise all day long!! He doesn't sleep much so that makes my days pretty full! He is a different sort of joy in my day... he is often my greatest delight and biggest frustration! His need for movement exhausts me since I am one of those people that needs some alone, quiet, still time each day. His requests for my involvement in his activities is constant, he NEEDS me more than my other kids did. He has to connect with other humans constantly.... he is auditory and kinesthetic where my other kids are visual and kinesthetic. He loves to be read to but hasn't decided that reading is for him yet. He CAN read just chooses not to use that particular power if he can avoid it. He LOVES math (yeah I am raising an alien!) and has one of "those" minds for figures, symmetry, and calculations. I think he will be some sort of engineer or a lawyer (he loves to talk things through and out and convince others to his viewpoint!) or something else great. Currently he is planning to go to Africa to build houses for people who live there that don't have a house. He is also concerned about our local "hobos" and where they sleep at night when it rains or is cold. He laughs easily and cries easily always passionate about everything and everyone. He challenges me to be a better parent every day because he is an instant read barometer of how I am doing... his joy, his disappointment, his contentment, happiness, sadness, excitement, amazement is immediately shown on his face. He tells me a million times a day he loves me, that I am the BEST mom a boy could ever have and a million other things that humans need to hear. I am honored to be his mom! (after all I AM the BEST mom a boy could ever have!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Too much STUFF!

I know everyone is pretty tired (everyone ... have to chuckle because I am pretty sure I have about 1 1/2 regular readers !) of hearing about my moving angst. It's always sort of exciting to think about a new house and starting over and that sort of thing and I am always so disappointed in myself that I am not one of those people you can visit 3 days after they move and everything is perfectly arranged with stuff even hanging on the wall! I lived in my last house 3 1/2 yrs and never got anything on the wall! Pathetic really if you think about it too hard!

I have finally decided it's not my fault... you see my family refuses to do my bidding on my schedule. I think I made a huge parenting mistake in establishing free will and individual thought in my children. Now when I say "hey you know I would really like to get that room painted today " they nod and say "yeah mom good luck with that!" Now I didn't raise a bunch of uncaring, irresponsible children it's just they have lives. They are busy people with friends, activities and all sorts of other things that THEY want or need to get done today too. Maybe if I had raised children that need to be told what to do every minute of the day my house would be cleaner (I could assign chores and punish them if they didn't do them! Wouldn't THAT be fun? Don't think so! HA!)

I will say I am not proud of myself when I do lose it now and then and grumble about the state of things. Last night after a long emotional day at our meeting I came home to a sink full of dishes which included a jar that hadn't been rinsed out that used to contain spaghetti sauce. I picked it up to rinse it out and SPLAT all over the front of my sweater! I admit I said a few choice words to no one in particular (which yes I know was passive aggressive behavior!) about how it would be nice for people to clean up behind themselves by at least rinsing out a jar instead of throwing it in the sink for someone else. There I was fitting and fuming and making a real ass of myself when I spotted a bottle I left on the counter earlier in the weekend. Now my hands work too yet I left something on the counter in the way with no regard for others too. My whole childhood my mother had a poem on the fridge about how children do what they see not what they are told to do. It was the one real thing I knew about parenting going into it but it's sooo easy to forget!

I always think that each new house will bring some miracle of organization to my life. That some new configuration of space will make it all work better. Right now I am delusional because I still have two storage units mostly full of stuff and it seems that the house while still in boxes I can envision everything fitting nicely without stacks of clutter. My Dad is fond of saying "you just have too much STUFF!" I do have too much stuff... I know there are actual illness where people hoard things afraid to let go of anything out of irrational fears and so forth.

My illness is that I love books... honestly people there are some small town libraries that don't have as many books as I have! The small town where I grew up had a nice library but rather small... I think I read every book in it by the time I was a teenager! I LOVE to read, I will read ANYTHING! Honestly I am the person that is reading the cereal box at the breakfast table, the package the toothpaste came in while on the toilet, I have to read to go to sleep at night, I read while I wait for anything anywhere. Both of my parents are big readers, my brother doesn't enjoy reading that much but still in the scheme of the world reads more than the average Joe.

My kids all love books. We homeschool so we have tons of books on every subject. I have curriculum not because we are structured homeschoolers but because I LOVE to collect it! I love the ideas that people come up with, I love the research that leads people to certain methods, I love the crisp new pages of words to read! All of my kids usually have a book in hand whether they are actively reading it at the moment or not it's a sort of security object. In fact my daughter Anna's lovie was a Scuba fish ID guide ...it had pages that could get wet so it went everywhere! She lovingly called it her "ish ook" since she couldn't say f's yet. She carried it around, slept with it, rode it around on her scooters, tucked into her bed when she thought it was tired and cried if it went missing. She's always preferred reference books over fiction so her books tend to be quite large. She owns every encyclopedia of cats, horses, dogs, reptiles, birds ect every written it seems! I used to say she wasn't a kid that enjoyed reading because she seldom reads fiction and because I have always gotten so much pleasure from that type of book I felt she was missing out. These days she will read a fictional work now and then if it includes some type of animal story.

She is my child that seems to know something about everything though so I guess all those encyclopedias did some good! She's also the child that challenges what I think I know about how people learn every day. She's a sponge... she draws in information from all sorts of places and remembers every detail. She can't spell her way out of a paper bag but her Granddaddy is a smart man too and can't spell! She wants to be a veternarian so all her animal interests will serve her well in that arena. She's also funny... I mean REALLY funny. She has a wit that dazzles us constantly. She really SEES through most people with a keen sense of clarity for their foibles. She isn't afraid to make fun of herself but rarely does so of others. She's usually the first one in our family to pick up a bad vibe from a new person and we have learned to trust her judgment in such things. She also is always the first person to realize one of our animals is sick. Every single time we have had a sick animal she immediately picked up on it... our vet remarks almost every time how "healthy" our sick animals are because she rarely sees an animal until they are in really poor shape. Anna always picks up right away that something is amiss.

Anna is my child that doesn't mind hard work... now that she's older she seems to be around less to do work but she is a meticulous bathroom cleaner often pitching my unnecessary stuff off the counter onto the floor where she demands I sort through it and put it where it belongs. Now if I could just harness that sort of attention to detail to the rest of my house I would be in good shape! She keeps her space neat and tidy at all times... her books stacked neatly, her clothing folded and stacked , her shoes lined up, her supplies organized and so forth. Unfortunately I can't seem to interest her in doing that to the rest of the house! Both of my older kids are pretty good about doing things around the house but they are just so busy these days!

I also can't get any cooperation from my family in following my fantasy of where the furniture should go. I insist that the bookshelves will all fit in the large front room we are calling the "schoolroom" in this house. For those unfamiliar with our method ...we always make one room a "schoolroom" in that all of our school related stuff is organized in that one room. It's often the intended formal dining room or living room because we just don't have a need for formal areas in our lives right now. In this house it's a quite large room and I am telling you people my shelves WILL fit if they will just cooperate and put them in there! I have boxes and boxes of what we consider "school" books. When we were packing them and putting them into storage my kids made lots of sarcastic remarks about "curse these dang school books" because those boxes are HEAVY! We have stacks and stacks of boxes of books sitting in the front room (because ya'll remember my family won't put my bookcases up!) and stacks and stacks remaining in storage! We also have bins and bins of all sorts of stuff... math manipulatives, science experiments, craft supplies, themed kits, games, bits of this and that and they too have to go on shelves (which can I mention again are in the garage until my family succeeds in convincing me of my delusional state!) When my schoolroom is all assembled it's a fun place to hang out and find things to do in. Occasionally it looks like traditional schoolwork but more frequently it looks like alot of fun but even more exciting to me is that it looks alot like learning!! Shhhh don't tell the children they are learning!

Now off to find someone to convince of my brilliance in furniture arrangment!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Parent Support

Unpacking update.... my bedroom is finally all one color and my bed is assembled... I am a little concerned that my mattress seemed more comfortable while on the floor than in it's frame! Internet is hooked up after some not so minor confusion but it's all sorted out now! No more "borrowing" from the neighbors! And best of all.... we bought a new coffee maker, hubby and I returned to Walmart (I know ya'll told me to leave him home but I just don't have the heart to deprive him of helping buy a gadget!) and decided to purchase the updated version of our missing coffeemaker. Today's coffee was pure bliss!

Today was a loooong day... it's been raining for 3 days straight now so everything is just wet, cold and icky. We had to drive 2 hours away to Winston Salem for a support group meeting for the NC 22Q11 group we belong to. 22Q11 is a genetic syndrome that our daughter Ainsley has. There are some 200 different features the kids can have but fortunately none have all 200! It does make it an exercise in frustration however to figure out how to manage their syndrome since it seems no 2 kids are the same. Lots have some of the same more common features but still it can be difficult to sort out what to do or what to look for to make sure they stay healthy. There is a great foundation based in Syracuse University in NY called Velocardiofacial Syndrome Educational Foundation www.vcfsef.org where the features are listed and lots of other information can be accessed.

I realized today during the meeting today how far we have come in our journey with a special needs child. She will be 14 in April and it just seems like yesterday she was a tiny infant and I held her in my arms wondering what was going on with her and how I would find the right sort of help for her. As we learned about her genetic syndrome and then later about autism the learning curve just seemed so steep! We thought we would never learn enough to help her or enough to explain to those working with her what she needed. Today during this parent support group meeting while we heard a speaker who also has a child with 22Q who has written a book about how to educate our children and then a psychiatrist who specialized in schizophrenia (one of the many mental health issues kids with 22Q can develop) I looked around at all the others that are just beginning their journey.

I watched a Dad of a newly diagnosed child shed tears as he listened to the potential struggles his child might encounter and my heart just ached for him!! I well remember the day I realized that mental illness was a possibility for my child. I remember feeling like I could handle almost anything healthwise but I wasn't sure I could handle a mentally ill child. Why I felt so devastated by this particular aspect of this syndrome I don't know. One would think that all the other potentially life threatening things would scare me more but it didn't. Perhaps it's my family history and having watched an aunt, a cousin and his young son struggle with mental illness and how devastating it was to their families. Perhaps it's the social stigma that still surrounds mental illness. It does seem "vogue" somewhat to be depressed or anxious these days but when you utter bipolar or schizophrenia people get uncomfortable! I had visions of my college boyfriend's uncle that used to occasionally hop a bus from New Bern, NC and find his way to Northern Virginia where the security officer in their gated community would detain him at the guard house until someone in the family arrived home to put him back on the next bus back to New Bern. He could be any sort of someone when he arrived... sometimes he was fleeing spies and sure his FBI brother could save him (his brother WAS actually in the FBI but the spies were not real!), sometimes he was a world traveler there to share news from his latest journey, sometimes he was sure that bad people were in his house back in New Bern or that his elderly parents were plotting his demise. It was funny and horrifying all at the same time... just heart breaking!

My child has had many challenges during her short life... she's had lots of minor surgeries and one major surgery. She's seen more specialists in her almost 14 years than most people see in a lifetime. She's been poked, prodded, x-rayed, scanned, evaluated, tested, studied and all nature of other medical things. I used to think it was horrible for her that she's has to go through all this until a friend said to me "you know I bet for her it isn't horrible.. it's difficult but not horrible because this is what she knows...she doesn't know other people have it different so don't make her think she's got it bad!" We have tried to follow that... we have tried to be prudent when choosing what test to do and what to skip. We try to advocate for her with the medical community so we aren't just doing a bunch of tests that seem like a good idea but don't really tell us anything. A very wise pediatrician told me once that every time you hear hoof beats it's not zebras... sometimes it's just horses! Consider the zebras if you are seeing stripes and in Africa but if you just hear hoof beats it might be horses.

A wonderful thing in the midst of the relative sadness I felt for those parents new to our "club" was a few kids that were in attendance who have 22Q. A friend once showed a picture of her little Andrew and my Ainsley to another friend to show her what 22 Q kids looked like and the friend said "oh so 22Q makes them all this stinking cute?" Our kids are CUTE... they really are! One little guy decided I was his instant friend and pulled his chair to sit next to me so I could watch him play his Super Mario Brothers game on his DS game. He was so proud of how well he could play the game and I was very impressed because those Venus flytrap thingies in the pipes always EAT me and he flew right over them unscathed! I watched two teen boys compare their drawings... our Ainsley is also a talented artist and I find it just really interesting that our kids who have has a primary feature in most of them "fine motor delays and hypotonia" can be such talented artists. And people I am NOT talking about being impressed because your special needs child drew a pretty picture, these were MAJOR artistic talents being showcased! One boy had drawn Parliament (you know that major piece of architecture those folks in London get to look at every day) and another had drawn a series of Pokemon characters. Our child also draws lots of Pokemon and anime type characters... some from movies and shows she likes and some from her imagination. Alot of our kids are musical, some play sports, some dance, some learn to drive and go on to college, marriage and parenthood. Alot of our kids don't do that well but they are sweet, hard working, pleasant kids. And some of our kids do develop serious mental illnesses that make their lives and those of their friends and family very difficult as they all try to navigate their illnesses safely.

I guess just like lots of other parts of life we all do the best we can with what God gives us. We figure it out as it comes and muddle through! I can't imagine life without some of these support groups, this particular group is fairly new but I see great potential in our numbers. I see through my involvement with the Autism Society in my area what great numbers of parents can do. We share information, we support one another, we cry together, we laugh together, we roll our eyes together and sometimes we just sit quietly together when it all becomes too much. The important thing is that we are together. People need touchstones, we need to know we aren't alone, that even if someone hasn't been through the exact same thing that they can relate in some way however small. I think it keeps us all sane to know we don't have to know it all but can depend on others to share what they know and if we are lucky we can repay the favor some day.

I have been fortunate in my life that other parents both in the special needs world and in my regular world have not hesitated to step in and help me when I am having a rough day. I remember when Ainsley was little and I would often get to playdates exhausted, frustrated and sometimes in tears and some other mother would hand me a cup of tea, push me in a chair and take Ainsley. Days when willing hands would take Jack when he was an infant so I could deal with a meltdown or other difficult situation. Days when they didn't know what to say or do but would just sit and pat me or give me the hug I needed so desperately.

I try to impart some wisdom each time I post because I hope I can save a new mom (whether the mom is new to motherhood, special needs, teenagers, homeschooling etc) the angst that I felt during all those "firsts".
So here's my wisdom... if you have a friend that is struggling in some area of life find a way to help, don't judge, don't belittle, don't "instruct" (don't ya'll hate it when someone thinks their way is the only right way?), in fact try not to talk much at all because I think it's in the silence that us moms are most capable of connecting on the level that we all need so much. Sometimes just "being" together or doing for one another is the most valuable part of friendship we can offer.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Best Friend

I know this can't last but boy I am on a roll!! Now if I can just find a diet that I can stick to for more than a day and a half! Well the news is the coffee pot is still MIA... today I am going to replace it! I tried to replace it two days ago but shopping for anything with hubby is an exercise in frustration! My husband, James, is really the sweetest guy imaginable. He puts up with ALOT! BUT he LOVES gadgets! Oh anything that can do something, make something easier, produce another product, if it has lights, buttons and a cord he is in heaven! He also has a problem with making decisions... he will think and consider and research and think and read and consult and read and think until I am screaming! Even sending him to pick out salad dressing at the market can take more time than most people give to deciding to produce children!

So here's the set up... we go to Wal-mart (there's one 2 miles one way from my new house and 4 miles the other way!) to pick up more painting supplies and the elusive wood glue that seems to have vanished. I mention that I think I am going to need caffeine in order not to have one of those "Snapped" moments you read on the front page of the newspaper about and that perhaps we should go look at coffee makers. He agrees and we shuffle off (we are tired people moving is hard work shuffling is what we do these days!) to see what they have. I see there's a Mr. Coffee basic for $18 seems like the obvious choice to me but ooohhh noooo! He starts a diatribe about the inefficiency of various types of spouts on the carafes in various machines and as it turns out Mr. Coffee doens't make the cut! So I agree that perhaps we will just repurchase the exact coffee maker that we have and that way we will have a newer one (read cleaner!) and can just give away the old one on Freecycle once it's located. There's just something for him that's unsatisfying about that...so many coffee makers to be explored, so many options to consider, egads we haven't consulted Consumer Reports we can't possibly make THIS decision uninformed! I take a deep breath and offer to let him pick and shuffle off to look at bathroom mats (also missing but we need new ones so maybe I did actually throw away the old ones instead of just considering throwing them away?) I return and he is still examining carefully each machine, weighing options, considering and made no decision. I am loathe to ask but I do anyway "so did you decide which one?" he shrugs and says "well I like this one alot" I am elated! Then I look at the price.... okay people I like coffee I even LOVE coffee but I have a mental limit on how much obtaining my morning coffee should cost... it seems the "perfect" coffee maker runs about $89 !! Our beloved lost coffee maker can be replaced for $39 so I am looking for the $50 worth of THRILL ME.... I don't find it! So I say "don't you think that's alot of money for right now ?" he shrugs and says "yeah I suppose". He suggests giving relocating the old one another day and I agree since well dang people I am NOT paying $89 for a new coffee maker (well unless all other coffee makers disappear and that's the only one available for purchase! I am not a crazy person!)

My husband is one of those easy going fellows, not much gets him wound up, he vacumns, mops and does the laundry. Yes people my husband does the laundry... not just will do a load under duress but does the laundry. I get the hairy eyeball if I mess with his system too much even! As is his personality he has a system... he is more particular about our clothing than any Martha Stewart wannabe has ever been. He hangs to dry all of our good clothing, he frets about the smell of the towels, he is concerned about his whites and their level of whiteness, meticulous about matching socks and where the lost one ends up. Every day when he gets home from work he heads almost immediately to the laundry room and starts a load. He leaves the folding to the older girls (which they aren't so meticulous about!) but he can churn out the clean clothing! My Dad being the old fashioned kind of guy he is has commented a few times that he isn't sure he would be happy to work all day and come home and do laundry (this from the man who retired at 56 and has been doing some of the housework for the past 10 years for my mom since she still works). I have asked hubby a few times if he would like to pass along the chore but he is content... I think the routine is soothing for him.

My hubby is a great Dad, he builds legos, fixes things, squashes bugs, plays video games, watches cartoons, plays any sort of game the kids want. He does alot of the carting around too which gives him one on one time each week with each kid which is hard when you have 4 kids. He takes Anna to Horse and Buddy for her volunteer work, takes Sarah to Sea Scouts, takes Ainsley to speech and physical therapy, and takes Jack to Lego League. He is great about taking them on outings so I can be alone now and then. He never complains when I go away for the beach weekend or a mom's night out with the other "autism moms".

Another thing I love about my husband is that he is a crier. Sad movies, sick children, people in any sort of disaster or hardship, new babies, sad news stories, happy news stories, watching our kids do incredible things, all sorts of things like that get him going. I appreciate the shedding of a tear by a man, he is as manly as the next guy but his mother raised him that people are people and we all feel sad, happy, and its okay to shed a tear about it. My older kids get a kick out of Dad's crying... when he starts sniffling during a movie they often giggle through their tears and roll their eyes "Daddy's blubbering again!" His retort is usually "You didn't tell me this was a sad movie!" or " How could you make me watch this when you KNEW the lady dies???!!!" That's the extent of his machismo.

We have a graduation ceremony coming up and in probably way too few years the weddings will roll around... there are going to be alot of tears! Now lest you think I am some hardcase I am right in there snuffling and blubbering too! Ainsley has been on a special needs cheer squad for 3 or 4 years now and EVERY single time they take the floor I cry... we all cry! These are the kids that other people think can't learn, can't do, don't know how to work hard, aren't as "much" as other people and they get out there and they put on a show! Maybe it's not a perfectly executed routine but it's darn entertaining. So when these kids take the floor watch out because that parent viewing area is going to be left with some water damage!

My husband and I are best friends pure and simple just best friends. I don't really WANT to spend alot of my time without him. He might have the opportunity to retire from his current job in another year or two and while I joke about him becoming a better golfer so he will actually go and play without being mortified (his mom taught golf at East Carolina for many years yet her son holds the distinction of being a really bad golfer!). We talk about his shop and his beloved cars he wants to restore and how much time he will be required to spend out there versus in the house under my feet messing up my routine! Ok people he insists on watching the WRONG news channel! That just starts off my morning all wonky. Give me my Diane Sawyer , Robin Roberts and Matt Cuomo they make me happy! That other crowd needs to be dropped of a cliff... I used to watch Meredith Viera on the View ... taking her seriously while she reads the news just ain't happening!! Anyway I digress... my point was that while I joke that he will have to have things to do to get him out of my hair being around him is really what I want as much as possible. We can't wait to have the time to travel more, to do more things around the house and so forth.

My husband treats me like a queen, I am guilty of not always treating him like a king but I try. He loves my cooking so I try hard to cook meals each night and not have that 7pm OMG what's for dinner I haven't thought about it yet panicked look. He thinks I am beautiful and he doesn't mind that there's more of me than when we got married. He is content with our life (well more money would be nice!) and loves us all more than life itself. I sometimes worry that his heart is so big that one day someone will take advantage of that and use it to hurt him.

So here's my advice for you young marrieds... cherish your spouse. The best thing you can provide your children is parents that love, cherish, and respect each other. Work on your marriage and put it first your kids will appreciate the effort and I guarantee you they won't feel neglected! Treat your husband like a king and he will treat you like a queen and the reverse is true also. Also remember that marriage is not always 50/50.... sometimes it's 40/60 or 10/90 but work towards it being a partnership of respect, love and compassion.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finding Joy

Recently Facebook has become part of my life... ok a big part! HA! I tried out My Space and never really got the hang of it and never really got into using it much but Facebook is much easier and enjoyable. There seems to be a common thread among moms... "what if I screw up my kid?"

Ok moms... let me let you in a little secret...most likely if you are worried about screwing up your kid you aren't likely the type really capable of screwing up your kid!! It's the ones that are "perfect parents" that are doing alot of the screwing up their kids!

One friend is worried about how to make her son understand that $400 for an activity that he now thinks he might not want to do is ALOT of money. If she were a bad parent she would just pat little Johnny on the head and say "no worries you can quit whatever you want whenever you want with no consequences to anyone" or on the other end of that she could punch him in the mouth and drag him kicking and screaming to the activity and sit there to make sure he did it and enjoyed it! Instead she's trying to remain calm and discuss it with him, trying to find ways to make him understand how much money $400 is for most people. Oh and the guilt! She feels guilty because he has a sibling with special needs and their family life can be much harder than the average family. He's a great kid and she wants to give him everything and feels terrible that he has many more burdens than most teenagers. I bet he doesn't consider his life hard, he loves his sister and he's never had a different sister so this is just his life which it appears he loves alot.

We moms do this to ourselves... our kids are not coming up with ways to make us feel guilty but we are capable of inflicting massive amounts of guilt on ourselves. My 4 yr old still has a binky, my 2 year still has a bottle, my kids don't bathe every night, I let my kids watch too much tv, eat too much sugar... the list goes on! Now lets take a deep breath.... there that's much better isn't it?

I found out a long time ago that kids are resilient...a little dirt doesn't hurt them, staying up too late now and again doesn't make them into sleep deprived, dark under eye circled waifs, eating too much junk usually teaches them that it's a bad idea (ever clean up after a kid that had too much birthday party?? ) and too much tv and computer doesn't melt their brains!

Now let me tell you what DOES screw up your kid... not respecting your kid as a person... as a HUMAN BEING. Children are not miniature adults and should not be treated as such but they are not subordinate beings either. They are human beings with personalities, passions, dislikes, dreams, ideas, and all sorts of other things. They deserve to be considered...not put "first" above all others but to be equally considered in a family.

If I run my family by only considering my own desires I am likely to have an unhappy family. Should my vegetarian child have to eat meat because I do? Should she just make do with whatever she can find that doesn't have meat in it? Her being a vegetarian can sometimes complicate meal times but would I really be doing my job as her mother if I didn't take into consideration her nutritional needs? I have kids with various different sensory issues so for them to be content and thriving certain things have to go on. Itchy clothing can't be purchased (and sometimes odd things are itchy!), strong smells have to be handled right away, loud noises are avoided and there are just some places we can't go. Does this change my life or make it less enjoyable? The places they can't handle I find another way to go if I chose, I send the other kids those places with another family or my hubby and divide and conquer by splitting up and going separate ways.

In our family each person has a vote... a say in how things are done, where we go, what we do and what we buy. At the same time no one gets voted down so to speak because we try to consider all needs before we do something. I have a friend who instead of saying no to her children says "no one is available to facilitate your need". It's long been my opinion that we would all be much happier if we found more ways to say yes. I can't tell you how many times I say no for no particular reason. Saying yes has become a conscious effort on my part. So many of my no's are laziness... I don't want to clean up after something, I don't want to stop what I am doing that I think is important (Facebook IS important!) , I don't want to change my plans or a million other excuses. Finding a way to say yes makes life so much more joyful for us all. How hard is it to put your child in a place of importance? We are all selfish by nature I think so we do first consider our own desires. Sometimes making the shift to a place where we try to consider others as well can be uncomfortable (some days it makes me downright cranky!) I continue to renew my effort to find joy in my day through saying yes, considering other viewpoints and being less selfish.

For all you moms out there living in guilt... STOP IT! Spend your time loving your family, living with the dust if it means you can fingerpaint instead, saying yes to baking cookies in an already cleaned kitchen, putting a smile on the face of a family member that only asked for your time and attention. Find your joy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lost Things

Well it was bound to happen.... things get lost when you move. Unfortunately the things that are lost at my house currently seem to be the coffee pot, my shower curtain, and most of my clothing! Jack is missing the Playstation 2 but we did locate the Wii and get it hooked up and going today! Actually we are missing 2 PS2's... no one seems to care about the Gamecube much anymore but I assume it's also missing as I haven't seen it and no battles over who's turn it is have ensued.

The funny thing about moving (really there are some!) is that for all the things that get lost you always find something that when it was originally lost you couldn't imagine how life could go on without finding it. Now 3 1/2 yrs later I am finding things lost in the last move that I am delighted to locate! Amazingly I found quite a few library books (yeah I know they have been missing for 3 1/2 YEARS!) in a box in the garage. Now I feel bad about my insistence with the librarian that I DID turn them in! I swore they were carefully placed in a tote bag during the last move and delivered to the library! OK well PART of that was true! They were in a tote bag but someone packed it in a box that has been in the garage for 3 1/2 years! Oh well at least I can use my own library card again now! Hubby says he is glad I can stop marring his name in the library now by using his card and returning books late. This from the man who once placed his library books in his nightstand where they sat for 3 months and insisted that he hadn't checked out any books and all THOSE books on his nightstand were ones he owned! Yeah well buddy after 3 months of overdue fines you DO own them! Only the library got custody and you get to visit them on occasion!

We have long since thought we have some magical creature living in our house that collects odd things to inconvenience us. We have a laundry basket with tons of unmatched socks (I know I should throw them out but what if the other sock is found??? ), I have camera cases that no longer have cameras in them, lost books, lost clothing, hubby once looked for 3 months after a move for the box that contained the battery charger and all the rechargeable batteries.. you know the one he marked so carefully and clearly so as not to lose it??? Kind of like my coffee pot... it was one of the last things packed how could it be lost??? Today I resorted to pouring boiling water over one of those filter packs that goes in the small coffee makers.... it was fairly weak but better than bludgeoning the family!

We spent today painting, scrubbing baseboards and trying to figure out where things should go. My Dad drove up to deliver a piece of furniture that he did some repair work on. My Dad is a tough old bird...his health isn't great these days but he still does his own yard work, builds things, repairs things , and fishes every chance he gets. He just found out his baby brother has prostate cancer and it weighs so heavily on him. His Dad died when he was 18 and he's been the "man of the house" ever since. He has 2 sisters and 4 brothers, 1 sister and 1 brother have passed on as well as his mom.

His mom was a tough old bird too... she raised those children alone after her husband died. She always put them first and loved them with a devotion and determination that should make most of us ashamed in comparison. When her husband died she didn't know how to drive, didn't know where they banked, knew nothing about the family business or any of their financial dealings. Her job was to raise children and keep house. She learned how to drive, went to work and made sure her kids were educated, law abiding citizens. She never remarried and never really dated...she said she married her soulmate and had no need to go looking for another. She kept us and various other cousins while we were growing up and even kept several of the great grandchildren in her later years when needed. When I started my family a little earlier than planned she was never critical and always supported me in finding my way through those hard first years of marriage and parenthood. She was heartbroken when we discovered that Ainsley had a genetic syndrome and then later autism. She was determined that she would be treated as all the other kids and was convinced she could learn just like everyone else if given the proper time and patience. She was a natural teacher often teaching the grandchildren and great grandchildren things that the parents had tried and tried! Tying shoes, colors, letters, all those things parents worry about she would wave you out the door and say "don't worry they will learn when they are ready". When the time came to retrieve your child they would suddenly burst out with "look Mommy that blouse is chartruese" it was like she planted some magical chip in their brains that now allowed them to master all things previously difficult!

Possesions and people... all lost things rattling around in my mind tonight. Here's to hoping tomorrow unearths the coffee pot!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I told you so!

Well I said it would happen! I KNEW I would fall off the wagon in the midst of the move! OK deep breath ....it's all good really!? We are now in our new house... finding more little things that have to be dealt with than anticipated but realizing that it's always that way!

Seems the fellow that did the painting touch ups used the wrong paint so our walls are pristine but polka dotted! I went into the garage to investigate the paint cans and found three cans... two with the same secret code numbers on them and one that although the color dot on top looked mostly the same those dang secret code numbers were different! So we are retouching the touch ups! The girls all decided they wanted their rooms to be painted so we now have one REALLY bright lime green room (Pear Green the can tells me!) and one VERY bright pink room (Sugar and Spice it's called but hubby insists it should be called Pepto!) They are happy with them so the goal was accomplished.

We have the two boyfriends here helping move heavy stuff... Sarah's boyfriend Jason is on spring break from college and being the sweetheart I told you about he's here painting, carrying furniture and generally being a great help. Anna's boyfriend, Oliver is here also doing lots of carrying heavy stuff and eating us out of house and home! Boy those teen boys can eat!! Oliver's body clock is very different from ours so we alternate between starving him and depriving him of sleep! He's an early to bed early to rise kind of fellow and we are all night owls so finding a quiet place he can rest when he is done in for the day has been a challenge! Another amusing thing about Oliver is that he is extremely spatially challenged... I have piles of boxes that defy gravity... huge boxes stacked on top of small boxes headed towards the ceiling. It looks very "Seussian" and I am waiting for the Who's to come to retrieve their belongings! Surely all this crap can't be mine alone!???

I had forgotten how unsettling moving is for our two kiddos that struggle with autism and sensory integration issues. New houses have different smells, sounds, feels, and sights. Ainsley really needed her room set up right away so that she had a place to retreat to. We painted her room last night and moving her stuff around and leaving her somewhat still scrambled at bed time was really tough for her. Jack who has SID really has struggled with self modulation... yesterday he fell into alot of echolalia and I am sorry to say the exhausted bunch of us weren't terribly patient with him! He spent most of the day kneading a ball of clay he got from a birthday party over the weekend and was a bit calmer by night time.

Because of the painting fiasco we don't have as much furniture really "set up" as we would like but I know my family ...if we set things up we will have polka dotted walls for the rest of our time here! The painting will NEVER get done once we get "settled" so I am keeping everyone "unsettled"!!!

So that's the update... we moved.... our stuff is in the new house and we are trying to settle in... it will happen eventually I am sure of it!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Day 2 of my vow to become a regular blogger! Well I will go ahead and let you in on something... I am moving this weekend so I am sure I will fall off the wagon pretty quickly! Pretty sure hubby with all his sweetness and tolerance for my craziness would frown upon me blogging while he wrangles boxes!

I was thinking recently about the seasons of life... our family is sort of straddling some seasons since our kids are pretty spread out. I have one heading off to college in the fall (still waiting on those fat envelopes!) I don't know if she will be near or far at this point because the jury is still out on which schools have accepted her and where her heart will lead her.

She's a good kid...she's taken on more responsibility for her siblings than most 18 yr old kids do and no one ever had to force her. She and Anna now 15 have always been best friends and I can envision them hanging out as little old ladies like my Grandmother and her sisters.... bickering over old memories and loving each other because they are sisters. She was 11 when Jack was born and immediately he became "her" baby. They share a bond that is mostly unheard of among siblings. I can imagine him going to her with many things over the next years... "hey sis I met this girl...." or " I was thinking of applying to this college". She's also taken on responsibility for her special needs sibling, I don't think I have to tell anyone that having a child with special needs is stressful for a family. There are lengthy lists that can be written of the things that are stressful... I won't bore you with that today! (I am sure there will be a day when I need to whine and wallow that you will get that list!) At any rate my Sarah never blinks or considers that she could walk away from doing whatever her sister needs. This is the sister that couldn't wipe her own bottom until around age 9 so you see where this is going! This kid has stepped up in a major way ... she does it because this is what we do in our family, she doesn't feel obligated she feels honored to have the chance to nurture others.

She's a goofy kid too... she can trip on the little dust bunnies that float through the air! She's often confounded by simple things in life yet will let fly some tidbit of brilliance that reassures me that she's not a complete blond! She can be sarcastic (no idea where THAT comes from!) and fiery when she's passionate about something. All 4 ft 11 inches and 100 lbs of her can be a force to be reckoned with if anyone messes with her siblings or those she's adopted as siblings. She found a wonderful boyfriend who has become dear to us all, he "gets it" about our family. Our sweet Jason can be found playing video games with Jack, will listen to all the Pokemon tales and other movie tidbits Ainsley tells him and cares not just about our daughter but her family. She deserves this young man's devotion and gives him the same. She's beautiful, brilliant, self assured, resilient, loving, compassionate, ornery and independent. She's MY kid... my first born....my special girl that can't even begin to know how proud I am of her , how honored I am to be her mother, and how thankful I am that she is my daughter.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Just feeling chatty....

Lots going on at our house this week... we are getting ready to move to a new house.. thankfully we are staying in the same general area... different town but suburb of the same major place.

Moving is always stressful and exciting... what will I love about this house, what will I hate? Will the kids like their new rooms... miss the old house? Will there be something about THIS house that will make me a better housekeeper?? We can all hope for that miracle! I like fresh starts... when I was a kid I loved that new box of crayons on the first day of school. I was really sad when by midyear they were broken, their paper jackets once so tidy now peeled down to reveal their blunt tips, some broken or missing. Hopefully this will be that last "temporary" place before we buy our farm and build that dream house!

I often think about that "dream house" I am often conflicted about the timing... wouldn't it be great to have a THE dream house when your kids are small so they can grow up there their entire lives? But wait... who I am now is so different from those beginning days as a parent so doesn't it make sense to have it now that I am older (wiser I hope!) ??

If I had built the dream house when my kids were little I may not have known at that point that I should give some thought to whether Ainsley will live at home for the rest of her life or if we would find a group home at some point? Would I have known that the rhythms of my children make them better upstairs versus downstairs dwellers? At 23 would I have considered that one day I may not be able to climb stairs or even that my doorways might have to accommodate a wheelchair one day should I or my spouse become disabled ? I think there's something to be said for the universe and it's incredible timing... I think it's a "God thing" ... for me at least there's something bigger than me out there that is helping me see the timing in everything.

Anyway having those night time "new thing" is coming thoughts making me a bit sleepless. I don't want to spoil my 1 1/2 readers by writing too much all at once!

Autism Moms

Recently my circle of friends that I fondly refer to as the "autism moms" dog piled me and forced me into getting a Facebook page. I resisted... I mean heck I have a My Space that I can't figure out that my 15 yr old took a mere 10 minutes to prove that I am indeed the most technologically inept person on the planet while helping me get a few things up on it. My two oldest swore to me while I ranted that I was being pressured into Facebook that "really Mom it's MUCH easier than My Space you can do it!" Amazing the endless faith children have in their parents isn't it?? HA!

So I caved... I set up the Facebook and darn it IT IS easy! I have photos and all sorts of things ! I think I am smarter since purchasing that Blackberry back in November the Alltel dude told me I really needed because I picked up Facebook like I was born for it!

The strangest element of Facebook for me has been the reconnection with old friends from high school.. I mean its WEIRD they all got OLD... I am SURE glad that didn't happen to ME! So here I sit showing my kids the boy I went to Senior Prom with , the girl that was my best friend, other kids that I remember this or that about and really just feeling all warm and fuzzy that there they are doing well, having great looking kids, married or not, but at any rate looking like they lived out the potential we all had on that long ago graduation day when we were all so young and were sure we knew everything!

Today I followed a link to a blog from one of my Facebook reconnections to read about her life... she too has a child with autism. It's bonded us instantly...we speak the same language, I can look into her son's eyes in the pictures his mother has so lovingly taken and posted so proudly and see that same look of "oops wrong planet" that my child often has, I can feel and hear her pain in her blog entries as she tries to do the right thing for him always and tries hard not to wallow in "that" feeling that lots of us "autism moms" have.

My child who lives with autism doesn't know that her mother often feels powerless, she doesn't know the tears I shed sometimes are for her and how hard her life can be, she doesn't know I spend sleepless nights praying to God that I will outlive her so I will know she is always taken care of, she doesn't know that the world isn't ready for her kind of brilliance. She does know her mom tries to keep lots of drawing paper around, just the right kind of pencils, her little brother at bay, and all the other little things that make her life less stressful.

I am blessed with many friends... those "autism moms" that pressured me into Facebook also "pressure" me to go to the beach for a weekend each year with them where we mostly talk about our kids, shed a few tears, drink LOTS of fun concoctions, and LAUGH ALOT! They also "pressure" me to go out for lunches, dinners, nights at the movies, an occasional couples night and so forth. Some of them are farther along in their journey, some not as far along but all bonded by our proud title of "autism mom".